07.10.2014

Shark meets crane

Highly automated application process for innovative painting

Lufthansa Technik is developing a robot-based guide arm for the highly automated application of sharkskin-like aircraft outer surfaces ("riblet" structure). In the future, the new painting system, with a microstructure that reduces drag, is expected to deliver fuel savings of around one percent. Lufthansa Technik is planning the industrial implementation of the application process after the completion of the "FAMOS" research project in March 2017. The focus of the project is a guidance system for the automated application of multifunctional surface structures.

The "FAMOS" project builds on the findings of the "Multifunctional Coating" research project, which successfully tested the stability of the new "Riblet" structure using small patches in a real-life environment. In cooperation with Bremer Werk für Montagesysteme GmbH (bwm) and Airbus Operations GmbH, a comprehensive, highly automated system is currently being developed to deploy various individual technologies such as, for example, cleaning, stripping, painting, and the application of drag-reducing aircraft outer surfaces. Furthermore, the new system is to facilitate the direct printing of photo-realistic images on the aircraft outer skin.

The "FAMOS" research program, funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), represents a technological contribution to both fuel cost savings and to the reduction of CO2 emissions.  "If, after the successful completion of ‘FAMOS', we manage to develop an industrial context with the new functional coatings such as the ‘Riblet' structure, Lufthansa Technik will be making a great technological leap in terms of fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness. This brings us significantly closer to our goal of being at the global technological vanguard in terms of environmentally friendly aviation," says Dr. Mathias Nolte, "FAMOS" Project Manager with Lufthansa Technik.

On 08 October, 2014, within the framework of this year's MRO Europe, Dr. Helge Sachs, Head of Innovation Management and Product Development at Lufthansa Technik, will deliver an address on the subject of low-drag aircraft surfaces.